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[RC] TWH's - Bruce Weary DC

I started dabbling in gaited horses for endurance riding about four years ago, and they are all I use now, though my wife still rides a very nice Arab. I'm certainly no expert, but I have done over 40 rides on either Walkers or Foxtrotters, from LD's to 100 milers, have top tenned, top fived, and even stole a BC one time, and have made some observations. First, there are clearly variations within a breed and between breeds. I had fun with the Walkers, but the ones I rode weren't as handy or surefooted as my Foxtrotters. A few of the Walkers were actually quite trippy and fell down with me several times. That gets old. I wasn't always able to solve the problem with shoeing and saddle fit, which tend to be among the first things modified to improve tripping. Even though I looked for the leaner built Walker, their recoveries weren't as good as the Foxtrotters that I have now, although they were tough and had very high completion percentages.
I have stayed with the Foxtrotters for various reasons. First, even though they gait, they are indeed trotting horses, and the diagonal gait of the trot seems to be more surefooted, with far fewer stumbling problems on the trail. Secondly, I was fortunate enough to find a couple Foxtrotters with a 32 and a 28 resting heart rate. This helps, I think, with their recoveries significantly. My horses recover within a minute or two of my wife's Arab, even when traveling over the same terrain, at the same speed and carrying more weight. They also have excellent heat tolerance. They have excellent feet and legs. They are very good minded horses with no buck, rear or bolt. They are very brave on the trail and will lead, follow or travel in between horses. They eat and drink embarrassingly well. They trailer and camp nicely, and if they get loose, they don't run off. They are very people oriented and easy to work with and be around. In short, I feel confident and safe on my Foxtrotters, and only twice have I not reached the finish line on them. One of those times was Tevis, at a time the horse wasn't really fit enough yet to carry me to the finish line.
I am not a crusader for the Foxtrotter, or gaited horses or any breed, for that matter. It's hard to think of a breed that hasn't been entered in an endurance ride. We are blessed to be able to have such variety to choose from. But I do know that there is increasing interest in the gaited horse for endurance riding, and it's only natural to assume folks will be curious about the best candidates. Plan on doing some real shopping and sifting through a few until you find a real partner with all the attributes you look for in any good endurance horse. They're out there. Dr Q


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